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How To Get The Healthcare You Deserve

In the few short months that I have been a Patient Leader for, I have been disturbed by the comments from the macular degeneration (MD) community regarding the care they receive from their doctor.

The number of our MD community who are unhappy with their retinal specialist surprises me. The complaint I hear most often is that the doctor is too rushed, not taking time to explain procedures, or to allow the patient time to ask questions.

Why it's important to take charge

I am a retired Registered Nurse and worked in the clinical setting for most of my career. From my experiences working in a healthcare setting, I learned how important it is for patients to take charge of their own healthcare. 

There are a few cases where this may not be possible, such as a patient with dementia, or the very old with multiple chronic conditions. No one has more at stake than you, the patient, when it comes to managing your care. You, the patient, know your own body better than anyone, including your doctor.

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The health care system only affects 10- 20% of our total health care. The steps we as patients take, such as eating right, exercising, and taking our medications as prescribed, all have a huge impact on our health.1

Choosing a doctor

One of the most important decisions we have to make is choosing our doctor. When newly diagnosed with MD, your first decision is choosing a doctor. Quite often our optometrist or ophthalmologist makes the initial diagnosis and will make a patient referral to a retinal specialist. You can check doctor reviews at You can also ask friends and family for recommendations.

Researching your diagnosis

If you are computer savvy, you can research your condition and the available treatment options. It is vital to get your information from trustworthy sources such as the National Institute of Health. 

After doing your research, have a discussion with your doctor about your findings. You and your doctor, working as a team, can collaborate on a treatment plan that is best for your condition.

Preparing for your visit

You can improve the quality of the visit by being prepared for the visit. Take a list of questions you may have with you. Be sure to share any new symptoms you are experiencing. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for answers to your questions. 

If you are unhappy with your care, discuss your concerns with your doctor. If the doctor refuses to listen to your concerns, it might be time to find a new doctor.

Developing a relationship with your doctor

Help your doctor get to know you by sharing what is important in your life. If he knows something about you as a person, he can tailor your treatment plan to better suit you. Take notes during your visit to help you implement any changes the doctor may suggest.

In my case, staying active is important while living with macular degeneration and with osteoporosis. Your doctor should be able to offer advice to help you accommodate any disabilities you may have. Low vision makes me at a higher risk for falls. To safely walk outdoors, I have started using trekking poles.

Coordinating your care

If you are being treated for multiple conditions and see several different doctors, it is vitally important to make sure your care is coordinated between members of your health care team. Make sure your retinal specialist knows about all of your health care problems. Update your medication list at each facility to prevent any drug interactions.

Getting the healthcare you deserve

The start of a new year is a good time to assess your healthcare. If you are not satisfied with your current treatment plan, do your research and take charge of your health care.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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